5 Questions with Stu: Dr. Leshell Dennis, Founder of Absolutely Flawless Women
Absolutely Flawless Women supports women and young ladies that need assistance with food, clothing, education, transportation, housing, and emergency resources. They offer professional development opportunities, childcare, elderly and veteran’s care, before/after care for children, summer enrichment among other services. They believe that all women can embrace who they are, define their future, and change the world.
Founder Dr. Leshell Dennis has worked to build opportunity in her community through bother her ministry in Millsboro, Delaware, and Absolutely Flawless Women. A certified happiness life coach, Dr. Dennis has made it her life’s mission to heal the wounds of the heart. How she and Absolutely Flawless Women helped heal their community during the COVID 19 pandemic is nothing short of inspiring.
How did your organization shift or pivot at the start of the Covid 19 pandemic?
At the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Absolutely Flawless Women Inc. established the Drive-Thru-Thursday event to provide free meals to those in our community from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Through partnerships, we have been able to reach out to students and their families affected by the pandemic and provide them with an additional opportunity to receive free meals at a time of day that is more conducive for working parents who may or may not be able to pick-up meals during the day.
What is the biggest or most creative way your organization adjusted to address community needs during the pandemic?
Since the conception, Drive-thru-Thursday has been a huge success and it prompted us to adopt a motel in Laurel, DE where we distribute food to the homeless and those in transition. We’ve also to created the Delaware Breakfast Box for students within our community. The Delaware Breakfast Box consists of 5 breakfast meals for students to have a healthy start before engaging in remote or hybrid educational instruction.
What adjustments did you make in response to Covid about which you are most proud?
I am most proud of the adjustments made to the way food is served and distributed, the way mentoring and empowerment is done, and the way in which we provide clothing to those in need. Instead of eating in, we have a drive-thru pickup line to receive food. Free clothing is set-up on tables at the end of the pickup line for those who wish to partake. We still offer weekly empowerment classes. However, some one- on-one empowerment takes place when we engage in conversation with the families while distributing food to them. As the founder of Absolutely Flawless Women, Inc., I have established a couple of life empowerment programs for both women and children, including a mentoring program for teenage girls within the Delmarva region. Mentoring plays a role in helping them overcome barriers they face and accelerate strides they are already making. This is the reason why Absolutely Flawless Women Inc. is utilizing the instruments of mentorship and capacity building to reach out and empower other women. I have always been involved in activities that will empower and put smiles on the faces of others. I am amazed at the outpouring of support that has resulted from this endeavor that is now entering into another year of serving our community via our Drive-Thru-Thursday Event. It is also very humbling to receive local recognition through Alignable that has awarded me the title of Local Business Person of the Year 2020-2021 in Millsboro, DE. It is truly rewarding to be able to reciprocate the gesture by giving to others.
What risks did you take in the beginning of the pandemic and did they pay off?
As frontline and essential workers during the beginning of the pandemic, our risk of being infected increased by distributing meals to our community during a time of crisis. This was a huge sacrifice and an unselfish action that paid off tremendously by the outpouring of those that have signed up to receive free meals each week; 200-400 meals and 1500 breakfast boxes distributed every Thursday. Because of our willingness to take a risk, Absolutely Flawless Women Inc. has collaborated with the following sponsors and/or organizations: Indian River School District, Salisbury Middle School, Salisbury Christian Shelter, Salisbury Chambers of Commerce, and Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce. Other collaborations have been with Nourishing Neighbors, Harry K Foundation, Longwood Foundation, Community Bank of DE, Food Lion in Millsboro & Seaford, DE, Cato Fashions For Women, Island Breeze Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, DE, Good Ole Boy Foundation, Mountaire, Acme, and Safeway. We have advertised on Channel 47, Delmarva Life, 90.3 FM Radio, YouTube, Facebook, Network for Good, and the Do More 24 campaign.
Has all that happened in 2020 changed the way your organization will operate In the future, even after the pandemic? How?
With all that has happened in 2020, Absolutely Flawless Women Inc. changed to a drive thru pickup format, mobile food pantry, and delivery distribution to the homeless at a local motel. Absolutely Flawless Inc. wants to empower homeless people to gain stability in their lives, to get jobs or start a business for themselves so that they can become productive. Absolutely Flawless Women Inc. hopes to continue running the Mobile food pantry program in which we reach out to feed the hungry especially the low-income earners whose wages or income is not enough to keep them going. My goal is for Absolutely Flawless Women to help as many women and girls, as possible, live healthy, prosperous, lives and to become successful entrepreneurs.